ACC Follows NCAA In Pulling Championships From North Carolina

Sep 14, 2016
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The state of North Carolina got some more bad news today. The Atlantic Coast Conference says most of its post-season collegiate tournaments will not be played in the state. And the reason - North Carolina's new state law that removes some protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We are joined now by reporter Jeff Tiberii from member station WUNC. Hello.

JEFF TIBERII, BYLINE: Hello.

MCEVERS: And so the NCAA announced something similar a few days ago. How big of a deal is today's decision?

TIBERII: This is also a big deal. This announcement from the ACC - Atlantic Coast Conference - hits closer to home because this conference is based here in North Carolina. There have been a number of out-of-state businesses that have said they won't expand employment here, entertainers who have canceled concerts. The NBA pulled its All-Star Game out of Charlotte back in July.

But this is a home-grown organization, this organization saying that the state legislature has passed something that it doesn't agree with - it is different in significance. And House Bill 2 - what we're talking about here, just as a reminder...

MCEVERS: Right.

TIBERII: It was hastily passed by the general assembly back in a one-day special session in March. The most notorious provision of it is that it requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Now, Republicans defend it as a safety measure. Democrats say that it is simply discriminatory.

MCEVERS: What are people there saying about the ACC's decision to move some of these tournaments out of North Carolina?

TIBERII: So far today, Kelly, reaction has been a little more muted or subdued that yesterday following the NCAA's decision. But by and large, it is, you know - still strong reaction. We heard from the governor later in this day.

Governor Pat McCrory issued a statement reiterating what he said yesterday about the NCAA's decision, and that is that this is an issue for the courts to decide, not organizations. And in this release, the governor also asked public and private organizations to let the process take place without economic threats, which is interesting because of course the economic fallout has been now playing out for several months and is unlikely to stop anytime soon.

MCEVERS: Well, how much will this decision by the ACC hurt North Carolina financially?

TIBERII: It's difficult to narrow down a precise figure, but we do know this much. The ACC Football Championship was slated to take place in Charlotte the first Saturday in December. That would have brought as much as $35 million to that city. That game is now going elsewhere.

Not just football, though - men's and women's diving won't be held in Greensboro. That's a loss of about a million dollars. Greensboro was also city scheduled to host the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament in March. That was worth more than $5 million of economic impact. And all told, the other sports that are moving their championship events out of North Carolina - field hockey, swimming, golf, baseball - so you know - pretty significant blow for the state.

MCEVERS: And this is more than just a financial loss, right? I mean this is another domino falling here, maybe even something bigger than that.

TIBERII: It is. Again, there's this home-grown factor. The ACC was founded here more than 60 years ago. It's based in Greensboro. And I think what you also have to note is that some of the people who have criticized outside groups as being radical and left-leaning and having an agenda - it's a little harder to do it in this instance 'cause the ACC is here, and a lot of these state lawmakers are criticizing or have been criticizing organizations.

But we should keep in mind that many of them went to these ACC schools that are now taking somewhat of a stand against this controversial law.

MCEVERS: Very quickly, I mean do you think there's more pressure now for the state to make changes to this law?

TIBERII: Democrats want a special session to repeal the bill. Republicans - almost all of them say that's not going to happen. This likely will play out in the courts in early 2017.

MCEVERS: Jeff Tiberii of member station WUNC in Durham, N.C., thank you very much.

TIBERII: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.